Saturday, January 29, 2011

Divorce Facts and Annie Hall

In mediation, people often see the same facts differently. I like using references to movies to give people a new perspective. To show how people can use the same facts and draw a different conclusion I refer to a scene in the 1977 Woody Allen movie, Annie Hall. You can see the clip on Youtube at It goes like this:

[Alvy (Woody Allen) and Annie (Diane Keaton) are seeing their therapists at the same time on a split screen]
Alvy Singer's Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
Annie Hall's Therapist: Do you have sex often?
Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I'd say three times a week.
Alvy is “Hardly” and Annie is “Constantly.”

Same facts different conclusion. The reference to the movie may not convince people but it usually helps the parties get by the impasse.
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (201) 1/6/11

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Divorce and Marriage Acronyms

An acronym is an abbreviation that is formed using the initial components in a phrase or name. These components may be individual letters or parts of words. There are many acronyms used in divorce and marriage. Some of the major one are the following:
QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) It is a domestic relations order that creates or recognizes the existence of an alternate payee's right to receive, or assigns to an alternate payee the right to receive, all or a portion of the benefits payable with respect to a participant under a retirement plan, and that includes certain information and meets certain other requirements.
COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) It gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.

QMCSO (Qualified Medical Child Support Order) It is a court order used to enforce an order for a health plan participant to provide child support health benefits. It requires a health plan to include a child as covered under a health plan, even if the child(ren) or the participant do not meet the conditions of the health plan. A QMSCO is typically used to gain coverage for a child under a non-custodial parent's group health plan. It is normally obtained by a divorced or separated spouse or by a state child support or Medicaid agency. The order authorizes withholding the participant's share of the cost for coverage from their pay. They may not drop coverage for the child without proof that the QMSCO is no longer in effect

DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) It is a law that that states that no state (or other political subdivision within the United States) needs to treat as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state and the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.
These are some other acronyms:

BIC = Best Interests of the Child
BIL = Brother In Law
BF = Biological Father
BM = Biological MotherCD = Consent Decree
CO = Court Order
COC = Change Of Custody
CP = Custodial Parent
CPS = Child Protective Services
CS = Child Support
CSE = Child Support Enforcement
FERPA = Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act
FIL = Father In Law
FOR = Father Of Record
GAL = Guardian Ad Litem
GP = Grand Parents
HOH = Head Of Household
FIL = Father In Law
MIL = Mother In Law
MOU = Memorandum of Understanding
MSA = Marital Settlement Agreement
MSOL = Marital Standard Of Living
NCP = Non Custodial Parent
OM = Other Man
OW = Other Woman
OSD/OSS = Oldest Step Daughter/Oldest Step Son
PAS = Parental Alienation Syndrome
PKPA = Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act
QDRO = Qualified Domestic Relations Order
RO = Restraining Order
SAHM = Stay At Home Mom
SC = Step Child or Children
SF = Step Father
SM = Step Mother
SD = Step Daughter
SIL = Sister In Law
SKIDS = Step Kids
SS = Step Son
STBX = Soon To Be Ex
SO = Significant Other
SIL = Sister In Law
TRO = Temporary Restraining Order
UIFSA = Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
UCCJA = Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (203) 1/20/11

Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Dates for Better Parenting Better Divorce

Do you have serious conflicts with your co-parent? Research has shown that children of divorce don't have to be damaged for life if their parents have cooperative and collaborative relationships.   Respectful co-parenting can provide children their best chance of living normal lives after separation and divorce.   All of our facilitators are experienced mental health professionals with years of total experience working with families. They have extensive training in conflict and resolution and mediation (l-r: Judy Colich, Vi Ballard, Paula Van Doren and David Kuroda).    
Dates and times of Classes 2011
Series 1: Tuesdays, January 11, 18, 25, February 1, 8, 15. 
Series 2: Mondays, March 7, 14, 21, 28, April 4, 11. 
Series 3: Tuesdays, May 3, 10, 17, 24,31, June 7. 
Series 4: Thursdays, July 7, 14, 21, 28, August 4, 11. 
Series 5: Mondays, September 12, 19, 26, October 3, 10, 17.
Series 6: Mondays, October 24. November 7, 14, 21, 28, December 5.  
Time and Location: 5:30 - 7:30 pm, 21535 Hawthorne Blvd. Suite 585, Torrance CA 90503. For parking area, enter from Carson or Del Amo Circle and park under building   
Cost: $360 for the 6-sessions. Credit cards accepted, $370.  
For information and registration: Call 310-373-7994 or 310-245-6814 Both parents expected to attend the same group  This workshop is recognized by the L.A. Superior Court/Family Court Services as a local alternative to attending "Parents Without Conflict" in Los Angeles. 
Labels: Children, Divorce, Parenting, Court, Co-parenting, High Conflict.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I am surprised that I have not done a blog about twitter and my tweets. Our twitter page is Our blog and twitter pages compliment each other. Each refers to the other. It can be a challenge to do a tweet with only 140 characters but it can also be a challenge to write a longer blog. Sometimes I do the same topic on both. Tweets are more immediate and blogs more in depth. It is fun to do each. You should read both. I hope they impart some wisdom, fun, and help.
As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (202) 1/13/11

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Ketubahs, Divorce, and Marriage

We have often joked how I was surprised the day I got married when the Rabbi, who happened to be my brother in law, asked me if I would agree to divorce my Wife. I guess I should have taken my own advice and read the papers, in this case the Ketubah (Jewish marriage contract), in advance. Not that I would not have signed it. I would have also liked one suitable for framing as I like the blending of Jewish ritual and art. It has taken me 37 years but I finally got around to reading it again. The Ketubah has 22 lines of which 7 deal with divorce. It says, “And both together agreed that if this marriage shall ever be dissolved under civil laws, then either Husband or Wife may invoke the authority of the Beth Din of the Rabbical Assembly and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America or it duly authorized representatives, to decide what action by either spouse is then appropriate under Jewish matrimonial law; and if either spouse shall fail to honor the demand of the other or to carry out the decision of the Beth Din or its representatives then the other spouse may invoke any and all remedies available in civil law and equity to enforce compliance with the Beth Din’s decisions and this solemn obligation.” This is the famous “Lieberman Clause” named after Saul Lieberman, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary. The “Lieberman Clause” is necessary because only Jewish men can agree to a religious divorce (known as a Get). In order to avoid men using granting the divorce as a weapon in a civil divorce, the Husband agrees in advance to a Jewish Divorce. See my blogs on Religious Marriage and Divorce on March 10, 2008 and LA Law and Divorce on June 26, 2010. The rest of our Ketubah deals with declarations of how we will behave in the marriage. I found it very sexist. It is based on the Torah. The only common declaration is that we will love each other. My Wife must fulfill all the duties incumbent upon a Jewish Wife. I must protect and support her. Fortunately, the content of Ketubahs have greatly changed since we were married. If you Google Ketubah, you will find a great deal of interesting material. Our marriage license was mysteriously filed two years late but that is another story. However, before the license was filed late, we needed proof of marriage to change a passport name and our Ketubah was filed instead. It may be the only Ketubah on file in Connecticut.

As always, you can post any comment about this blog or Divorce Mediation, or just Mediation by following the directions at the right in the green column or at the bottom of this website. Learn more about mediation at WM (204) 1/27/11

Monday, January 03, 2011

What on earth do I do with my relationship baggage?

Let’s deviate for a moment and discuss baggage in general. Everyone has some form of baggage from a relationship or a nasty break up or divorce. Without being insensitive, if we are really committed to our next relationship working beautifully, we need to purge that baggage, or manage it. Before we can do that, let’s examine the types of baggage we drag around with us…
  • The ‘Waiting to be Hurt’ Baggage – You react emotionally to the hurt from your past.
  • The ‘Ex’ Baggage – You just can’t get over your ex-husband and hold on to the idea that the ex may come back into your life OR alternatively you compare EVERYONE new to your ex. Sadly, if you cannot come to grips with a relationship’s end or see a new person you are dating for who they are, you will be unable to function in a new relationship…
  • The ‘Angry Woman’ Baggage – This is the most damaging kind of relationship baggage where you are just extremely angry at men. You blame men for all your problems. Men are “jerks” and “users.”
  • The ‘I’m not attractive enough’ Baggage – This issue usually crops up due to a history with an ex who may have spent time constantly appraising other women’s beauty or spent time berating your own beauty or body.
  • The ‘He’s bound to cheat on me’ Baggage – Most people have good instincts about their partners’ fidelity. The great exception: People who’ve been cheated on. If you have been burned you might not be able to trust your instinct, may see affairs everywhere and may not be able to clearly judge.
  • The ‘I don’t satisfy him in bed’ Baggage – This baggage usually develops due to a history with a particular ex.
  • The ‘I’m doomed to get dumped’ Baggage – You will tend to manifest your worst fears happening.
Learning to unpack your personal Samsonite won’t just help your own psyche; it’ll also help you empathize with your new man. Because guess what? That guy you’re dating? He’s standing there with a suitcase and garment bag, too.
Day 17 of The Naked Divorce Program deals extensively with how to rid yourself from relationship baggage and the dreaded ‘ex hexes’ for good, but in the mean time, here are some tips…
 Here are some tips to practice in your next relationship..
  1. Just because certain ex-partners may have mistreated you in the past, don’t make the sweeping assumption that every single person you date from this point forward will treat you shabbily as well. Each new person you meet has the right to be evaluated based on his own unique merits and flaws, (as opposed to being evaluated based on your past relationship experiences). You certainly don’t want to miss out on getting to know a potential “Mr. Perfect-For-You” because you are too busy unfairly projecting your past negative relationship experiences onto him!
  2. Obsessing over certain painful incidents or relationships from your past is not healthy. (Actually, obsessing about anything is not terribly healthy). In fact, it’s akin to playing a negative tape loop over and over again in your head, and it is definitely not conducive to creating happier, healthier relationship experiences.
  3. A past difficult relationship should not cause you to give up completely on all relationships and/or potential relationships. Granted, it is perfectly understandable to feel sad, angry, bereaved, and even somewhat bitter in the immediate aftermath of a painful, failed relationship, but FOCUS on what you want to have happen rather than on what you don’t want to have happen.
  4. People who feel insecure and/or who suffer from low self-esteem sometimes consciously or unconsciously sabotage their love relationships by engaging in behaviours that could potentially drive their partners away in order to confirm their own worst fears and beliefs about themselves. Don’t fall into this all-too-common insecurity trap!
  5. Remember that your painful relationship history need not repeat itself over and over and over again, with only the most miniscule of variations (like some excruciatingly painful version of that Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day.)
On that note, always bear in mind that you actually have an enormous say in the creation of your own destiny. And if you put your mind to it, you truly can break free from past destructive dating patterns.
Of course it is extremely important to protect yourself emotionally, especially if you have experienced more than your fair share of difficult, or humiliating, or even traumatic romantic relationships in the past. However, every aspect of life, including dating, involves a certain degree of risk-taking. And while it can be incredibly hard to open your heart and make yourself vulnerable to a potential new dating partner (especially if you have been hurt repeatedly in the past), please remember that life sometimes requires us to take a leap of faith so that we can continue to grow emotionally. Therefore, if you have recently met a good, kind, loving, emotionally whole and healthy person who would like nothing more than to start a relationship with you, then get ready to take that leap.
Sending you a hug!